Step 9: We made direct amends to such people whenever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
23 Therefore, if you bring your gift to the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, 24 leave your gift at the altar and go. First make things right with your brother or sister and then come back and offer your gift. Matthew 5:23-24, CEB
The last part of the phrase is the hardest part. How do we determine when the amends would injure that person (or others)? There are so many considerations here. In the case of a marriage that you’re trying to restore, it’s possible that you’ll need to be honest about things that will injure the other person. Does that mean we lie, or hide the truth? No, it means that, in all things, we need to be discerning. (I’m not a big fan of one spouse carrying around secrets from the other spouse just so that person doesn’t hurt. That just seems like a recipe for disaster doesn’t it?) Sometimes we need to share harmful information (and deal with the fallout) and sometimes we don’t.
It’s become rather popular in movies and/or tv to mock the amends process. It’s a common enough scene to have a character (a recovering addict who has never been in the show before) unexpectedly re-enter a person’s (usually one of the show’s main characters) life and make amends either for something ancient, trivial, and long-forgotten, or for something so incredibly harmful that nobody in their right mind could forgive on the spot.
At the very least, we have to try not to be the person that Hollywood mocks in scenes like this. We can’t show up expecting to drop bombshells on people nor do we need to make an amends for being rude at that party 30 years ago. Sometimes these are common sense issues and sometimes they’re not. When they’re not, what can we do? We’ll have to rely on other people (whom we trust) for feedback and guidance.